How Abu Malik Cheg Cheg sold American arms to ISIS and his role throughout 5 years of Daraa battles in Syria

For many years, Abu Malik Cheg Cheg had been known in the south of Syria for being the biggest arms dealer, selling a variety of arms, ammunitions and military equipment to all factions.

Taysir al-Sharif was known as Abu Malik Cheg Cheg after he was introduced to the world of weapons trading and expanded his activities to supply the armed factions leaders with ammunition and weapons. He also had wide network of connections with arms dealers in Syria and the region, especially Bedouin traders in Lejat known as “the Birds” who acted as brokers in arms trade between Cheg Cheg and ISIS.

A private source informed SDC that leaders of the armed factions had always been indebted to Cheg Cheg for supplying them with ammunitions and weapons to use in attacks against the Syrian army, especially when they took control of Sheikh Miskeen in Daraa countryside in 2014 and seized control of Brigade 52 in the summer of 2015.

Cheg Cheg played a pivotal role in how the battles went on. Cheg Cheg came from Naseeb town which borders Jordan. He maintained contacts with Jordanians and was well-connected, which made him the biggest arms dealer in the south of Syria.

The US, France, Britain and some Gulf states set up the Military Operation Command (MOC) in Jordan to supply the armed groups. MOC-supplied weapons got through Cheg Cheg before reaching the armed groups. Information disclosed by “weapons monitoring organization” revealed a great deal of the weapons supplied by the US and European countries to opposition factions ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters.

Cheg Cheg was an excellent dealer in business and he never took sides. He considered everyone buying from him as mere customers. All he cared about was money not the destination of the weapons. Bedouin dealers from Lejat received purchase orders from ISIS and acted as intermediaries to supply ISIS with the needed weapons from arms dealers, especially Cheg Cheg. “A representative of ISIS would come with a broker from Lejat to see what weapons they needed, they would make the arrangements, the broker would take a fee and help arrange the shipment. From there, there was a supply line running to Hassakeh and Deir Ezzor. There was a triangle, connecting Jordan, Iraq and Syria, where weapons move easily,” said an eyewitness who was present for an arms deal in Lejat in the summer of 2015.

In 2015, ISIS and Nusra Front started to fight. When the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and Harakat Al Muthanna, two ISIS-affiliated factions with strong roots in southern Syria, emerged as significant powers, Cheg Cheg came under intense pressure from MOC, not to supply them with weapons. Cheg Cheg began to refuse to sell munitions to the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and Harakat Al Muthanna. Cheg Cheg was, in fact, supplying the groups attacking the ISIS affiliates, which seemed to have sealed his fate.

In the midst of exchanged assassinations and recurrent explosions in Daraa, On the evening of April 27, a vehicle was speeding along the Zarib road between al-Mzerib and Kharab al-Shahem in Deraa when an explosion tore it apart, killing its 7 occupants. One of them was Cheg Cheg. It was difficult to prove who stood behind the explosion but most accusations indicate it was the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade in revenge of his rejection to sell them weapons.

Cheg Cheg’s assassination confused the armed factions as they had to search for smaller other arms dealers by now. Cheg Cheg had always been ready to supply them with all kinds of weapons since he had unprecedented access to weapons and contributed to the messy spread of weapons. Some local sources said weapons even reached the hands of children then.

The Syrian army regained control over all Daraa and the southern area in the summer of 2018 after fierce battles with armed factions and Jihadist organizations such as Nusra Front and ISIS, in addition to compromises and reconciliations with the aid of Russia. However, no one denies Cheg Cheg’s prominent role in the previous battles with the chaos of arms and the regional intelligence and the US MOC and other contributors to destroy Syria and kill Syrians.

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